Oral Cancer

Overview

Oral cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the mouth (oral cavity) or the part of the throat in the back of the mouth (oropharynx). It is also sometimes called head and neck cancer and squamous cell cancer of the mouth.

There are many types of oral cancer, including:

Most oral cancers are squamous cell cancers (a kind of cancer that only affects the top layer of the tissue). These cancers often spread rapidly, but can be successfully treated if they’re found early.

Symptoms

Symptoms can include:

  • Lumps, bumps, swellings/thickenings or crusts – eroded areas or rough spots on the gums, lips, tongue or other areas of the mouth
  • Chronic hoarseness or sore throat
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dramatic weight loss
  • White, red or speckled velvet-like patches in the mouth

Diagnosis

To diagnose oral cancer, your doctor will examine you, feeling for lumps or tissue changes on your head, face, neck and inside your mouth. Your doctor will look for any sores or discolored tissue, and ask about any symptoms.

Your doctor may order tests, such as:

  • Oral brush biopsy, a painless test that gathers cells from a suspicious bit of tissue
  • Scalpel (knife) biopsy 
  • Imaging tests such as X-rays, CT or MRI scans to determine if the cancer has spread

Treatment Options

If you have oral cancer, your team of Aurora specialists will work with you to determine the best treatment plan for your needs. 

Treatment may include:

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